On 1 October 2020, General Narongpan Jittkaewtae took his post as Thailand’s new army chief. Aside from the haircut and the penchant for shiny medals, his personality is entirely different from the previous army chief, General Apirat Kongsompong.
Rather than talkative and boastful, he comes across quiet and unassuming. Unlike his predecessor, he doesn’t wear his emotion on his sleeve, and he has yet to hit the dirt and do 50 push-ups for the cameras.
But everything that has come out of his mouth thus far, well, it might as well be General Apirat speaking.
Missing the Point
When asked about Thailand not being a democracy, the general replied, “What? How is it not a democracy?” He said everyone has personal freedom and free speech; however, all must be within the constitution.
The general has failed to grasp that there isn’t anything democratic with a constitution born out of a military coup. Those who opposed it were arrested and charged with crimes, including Article 116 (sedition). Meanwhile, not revealed to the public were the specifics such as the power of the 250 junta-appointed senators.
The constitution is a sham, and the people were duped.
Missing the Point Part 2
Asked about his senatorial title, the general replied that the title came with the army chief’s ranking, and he doesn’t take the salary. There’s no clause in the constitution that specifies resigning from the post.
If the general has any clue what democracy is, he would know that the salary is not the main issue.
The contention is the undemocratic power drafted by the military dictatorship which gives the 250 junta-appointed senators the privilege to elect the prime minister directly, while themselves are not elected by the people.
The salary is neither here nor there. It’s the unjust power in your hand.
Missing the Point Part 3
Concerning military reform, the general said reform isn’t done overnight. It takes time. He also said instead of demanding a reform to the monarchy institution; the people must first reform themselves.
But we have already reformed ourselves. No longer are we slaves, blind to reality and deaf to truth, with our lips glued by fear.
How about you, dear general?
Of course, reforms can’t be done overnight. But reforms must start with, well, you know, willingness to reform.
Will they ever stop making sequels to Missing the Point?
Every word that the new army chief uttered thus far reflects the same values as his predecessors and adheres to the same belief system perpetuated for centuries.
In this belief system, the people are but cattle, smiley peasants laboring in blissful ignorance, grateful for the shackles on our freedom, and thankful for the imprisonment of our human spirits.
Dear general, welcome to the year 2020. We are no longer slaves.